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tjking93's picture

Sterilized Wounds

By tjking93 in Arrest Us

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A doctor working the night shift at a failing hospital with a terrible past finds himself faced with a horrible present when a tattooed gunshot victim is wheeled into his Operating Room. 


Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 12, 2014 - 5:01am

Pretty good stuff man. Brutal and nasty. I liked how things came full circle and everything that happened earlier in the story came back towards the end. A few tweaks I'd suggest:

Dr. Meyer's flirting with the nurse seems kind of creepy and unprofessional. If you were hinting at some maladjustment from his childhood trauma I don't think this is enough. If you're not hinting at that, I'd just remove it or swap it with him joking with Nurse Mike.

By now the Glasgow Smile is synomynous with Heath Ledger's Joker. Consider some other form of marking the victims.

There were a few sentences that came off kind of stilted. Try reading through your manuscript out loud, and anytime you have to stop and re-read a sentence, consider re-wording it.

Otherwise, a good concise and brutal little tale. Thanks for the read. Good luck!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 12, 2014 - 8:25am

Great story, minus a few clichés. Also I don't quite buy the main character being a surgeon, perhaps an orderly? Like he wanted to save lives, but didn't have the temperament to study so he does what he can to help. I like the flashback idea and the circular nature of the story.

Matt A.'s picture
Matt A. June 17, 2014 - 8:46pm

TJKing93, I have a few suggestions that may help tighten this up a bit. Take whatever you think may help and disregard the rest:

A story should show some change from beginning to end in regards to the protag. At the end he takes a drastic decision, considering his hippocratic oath, in killing a patient. The trouble I had was his state in the beginning. Did he not recognize this guy right away? I'm not sure what the trigger was, because we were being given flashbacks along the way to this traumatic event. Or was it the other guy's reaction that set him off? It may come off as more powerful if he DOES recognize him at the beginning, yet is able to restrain himself, but by the end he takes that step in taking a life. Instead the first several pages got off to a slow start in his washing up, knocking over the fake-nurse, and hitting on the other nurse.

With your descriptions, you used a lot of generalizations, like "cute," "weird," "freakazoid," etc. If you could expand on your descriptions, not only would it let your voice shine, it will add some characterization in how your narrator describes these people.

Good luck.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 20, 2014 - 8:11am

There is a nice concept here, but I think you could explore it in much more depth. The key here, as Doug says, is that you have a surgeon turning his back on his oath to get revenge. That is the story. The rest is just garnish.

The Doc has gone through something truly horrendous in his life. You’d think that the memory of those men would be burned into his brain. You state in that first flashback, “his neck tattoo burning into my memory forever.” In this case, forever doesn’t seem that long. As soon as he saw that tattoo, surely he’d be looking closer at the man, and replaying that scene in his head to work out if it was him or not. I doubt he’d waste a moment thinking he was ruining a masterpiece. I’m with Doug on this, he needs to work it out very early on, or he needs not to be the doctor that operated on the guy. Seb’s suggestion of making him an orderly is a good one. You could strip out the operation, make him the orderly or the security guard, and so the first time he sees his tormenter is when the fake nurse is standing over him with the gun.

The flashbacks are problematic. There is little connective tissue to what sets these off. I’d be tempted to take these out and run it as a short flashback at the end. Have them set off by what fake nurse says, and by the sight of that tattoo. On a side note, I don’t buy that the detectives dealing with him as a kid would be that unprofessional, calling the kid “incredibly fucked up” right in earshot.

You slip on tense a few times. At the bottom of page 1 you have, “I open my eyes” but then, “I shook my hand out”, “I swore”, “I grabbed”, “I pushed”. It’s easy to do, but you need to be careful that the tenses are consistent. There were a few other little things: “My bad guy,” instead of “My bad, guy,” the first suggests the male nurse is actually your protagonist’s bad guy (neat little foreshadow though); also you need to describe a smile as something other than winning (twice).

This is far from a lost cause. Your premise has promise, and you could turn this into a dirty, gritty little thriller. I’m itching to re-write it myself, which I generally see as a good sign. As it is though, I don’t think it quite works.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 20, 2014 - 11:55am

That was pretty damn dark, but I enjoyed it.  My only concern was that he didn't recognize the tatoo after having his hands in the patients guts, fixing him up.  Also, seeing the 'pretend nurse' twice made it a little obvious that he was coming back and had no business being there.  I'd suggest leaving out thei rinteraction just before he makes it to the police.  Overall good story though.

Juice Ica's picture
Juice Ica from Rhode Island is reading The Twelve by Justin Cronin & Beautiful Creatures July 10, 2014 - 12:52pm

I enjoyed this. It was a brutal story but it was well structured. I think his "flirting" was a bit creepy and I wasn't sure what the purpose was - to show he has issues or just to show him as human?

I liked how it all came full circle and it made a lot of sense to me. I really liked how the main character was a surgeon, tasked with saving lives. Love how you twisted that at the end.

All in all, a great story and very powerful.